The last professional football team in Michigan to win a championship is not the Detroit Lions. It’s the Michigan Panthers of the short-lived USFL, who won the league’s inaugural championship back in 1983.
Well, the Michigan Panthers are coming back into existence. The USFL is returning to play in April and they have decided to start with eight teams, including several franchises that kicked off the league nearly 30 years ago: the Birmingham Stallions, the Houston Gamblers, the New Jersey Generals, the New Orleans Breakers, the Philadelphia Stars, the Pittsburgh Maulers, the Tampa Bay Bandits and your Michigan Panthers.
As of now, the teams are just in name and logo only. According to the Sports Business Journal, all eight teams will play in a central location yet to be named, making no true home and away teams for each week.
The Panthers lasted just two years in the USFL before the league made the unpopular—and ultimately league-destroying—decision to move the spring league into the fall to compete with the NFL. Then Panthers owner Alfred Taubman did not want to compete with the Detroit Lions, so ultimately chose to merge the team with the Oakland Invaders. The league closed its doors entirely a few years later in 1986.
This 2022 version of the USFL is owned by Fox Sports and is run by CEO Brian Woods, who has attempted to establish several spring football leagues, including The Spring League, which was founded in 2017 and has seen some minor success over the past four years.
Not much else is known about the league yet, but if you’re interested in following the Michigan Panthers, they have their own logo and Twitter account.